BRUNSWICK — After nearly 26 years of service, Patrol Cmdr. Marc Hagan is leaving the Police Department Aug. 26 to become chief of police in Lisbon.
“The experiences that I have had working for the Brunswick Police Department have been amazing,” Hagan said in an email Monday. He is the only member of the department originally from Brunswick, and said serving his hometown community has been an honor.
“I was interested in working in Brunswick because I was from the community and it looked like exciting work where I could help people,” Hagan said.
More than 2 1/2 decades later, Hagan’s view of police work has hardly changed.
“The role of a police officer is to help people,” he said. “Oftentimes people that cannot help themselves. Whether it is handling a vehicle crash, assisting someone who has been assaulted, or even running traffic enforcement on a local street. … It all comes down to the fact that the police are here to help people with issues that they cannot, or oftentimes should not, address themselves.
“That has been the greatest part of my career.”
Hagan’s career highlights have followed the theme of helping others. He said he is most proud of the local community partnerships he has fostered since his promotion to patrol commander.
For example, Hagan said, the department partnered with Coffin Elementary School in a national literacy program called Flat Stanley that encourages students to draw a two-dimensional paper character (a “Flat Stanley”) that travels into the community to be photographed; the photos then inspire discussions in the classroom.
Each week for the past year, a different Flat Stanley rode along with a Brunswick police officer, and photos were posted to the department’s Facebook page.
“We would then send an officer into the classrooms to talk to the students about what we (and) Flat Stanley did,” Hagan said, although he thinks the Facebook page alone tallied thousands of views weekly.
“(The project) got our officers into the schools building relationships when we normally wouldn’t be,” he said.
Programs like Flat Stanley are intended to strengthen the relationship between the town and the department.
“The simple fact is that there are very few persons who want to start a career in law enforcement right now,” Hagan said, calling attention to the shrinking pool of applicants the department he has seen since he joined in 1990.
“I believe the process I was hired in had 80 applicants,” Hagan said. “In March of this year we conducted a hiring process and four applicants applied.”
“The work hours, pay, and the scrutiny that police officers are under right now is simply pushing good, qualified candidates into other professions,” Hagan said, calling the trend “unfortunate.”
As patrol commander, Hagan said he is proud of the patrol officers team he supervises, a team that makes up the public face of the department.
Hagan was promoted to the vacant position in 2008, just after Chief of Police Richard Rizzo joined the department.
Hagan, a lieutenant at the time, was an obvious choice for the job, Rizzo said: he was known and well-regarded by the community, and respected by his fellow officers.
In the next eight years, Hagan became the Rizzo’s “right-hand man,” the chief said, describing him as “an excellent, strong leader” who had the respect of the entire Maine law enforcement community.
Now Rizzo is tasked with finding another patrol commander, and he said he is likely to promote from within the department once again.
When he shows up for duty in Lisbon on Sept. 1, Hagan said the first thing he plans to do is “meet with as many community members and organizations as possible.
“Then, when I am confident that I have a good understanding of the community and the agency, I will address changes that I believe may be warranted,” he said.
But there is no doubt that much of what he learned serving Brunswick will inform that ways that he leads the department of another small Maine town.
“Serving the town that I was born and raised in has given me an unbelievable perspective, and it has shaped my beliefs as far as what our duty is to the community that we serve,” Hagan said. “Lisbon will be no different.”
Patrol Cmdr. Marc Hagan departs Brunswick at the end of the month to become chief of police in Lisbon.